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Introduction to Leiden Observatory

Leiden Observatory ("Sterrewacht Leiden"), founded in 1633, is the oldest university astronomy department in the world with a distinguished history. The work of famous astronomers such as De Sitter, Hertzsprung, Oort, Blaauw, and Van de Hulst made Leiden an internationally renowned center of astronomical research.

With about 25 faculty, over 30 postdoctoral associates and over 40 PhD students, Leiden Observatory is the largest astronomy department in the Netherlands. Research at the observatory spans a wide range of areas including cosmology, galaxy formation and evolution, interstellar matter and star formation, stars and planetary systems, computational astrophysics, high energy astrophysics, laboratory astrophysics, astrochemistry, and instrumentation.

Leiden Observatory has access to premier international observing facilities, including ESO's VLT, several ESA space observatories and the new LOFAR radio telescope presently being constructed in the Netherlands. The Observatory hosts the Directorate of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA), an association of Dutch university departments that has been singled out for special funding from the Dutch government to carry out a program of strong astrophysical research.

The observatory is a partner in the Lorentz Center, an international research focus for Astronomy, Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics. The Center offers a variety of workshops and courses, usually of great interest to both staff and students.

Leiden Observatory has a large network of international collaborations and has a long tradition in and an internationally acknowledged reputation for education in astronomy. See also this recent article in Nature featuring astronomy in Leiden.

PhD students from Leiden succeed exceptionally well on the international job market. One of the most prestigious fellowships in world astronomy is NASA's Hubble fellowship. More astronomers with a doctoral degree from Leiden have won Hubble fellowships than from any other university outside the USA. Many of the faculty members, PhD students, and undergraduates have an international background. English is the common language.